'Iconoclastic' architect who designed Golden Mile Complex & People's Park Complex dies at 90

He has been described as one of Singapore's "architecture giants."

Matthias Ang | January 08, 2023, 03:08 PM

William Lim, the architect who was involved in the design of Singapore iconic buildings such as People's Park Complex and Golden Mile Complex, has died at the age of 90.

His death was announced by the Singapore Heritage Society in a media statement.

He was born in Hong Kong in 1932.

A champion of heritage

Other buildings Lim designed included St Andrew's Junior College, Tampines North Community Centre, Marine Parade Community Building, LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts and Tanglin Shopping Centre.

According to the Singapore Heritage Society, he was also its first President, and one of its founders, along with Kwa Chong Guan, Sharon Siddique and Geraldene Lowe-Ismail.

The society was founded in 1987 with the aim of alerting the government and the public on the urgent need to conserve Singapore’s heritage.

Lim held the role of President for 10 years, until 1997.

Under his tenure, the society organised conferences, public talks and also produced a series of publications focusing on Singapore's heritage.

The society also published a 1992 report for the then Minister for Information and the Arts George Yeo on establishing a heritage trust in Singapore.

One of Singapore's "architecture giants"

Meanwhile, the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) described him as one of the country's "architecture giants".

SIA further highlighted that Lim was a prolific writer, having authored 13 books and published various articles on urban planning, architecture and his own socio-cultural reflections on modernity, social justice and cultural identities.

In addition, he was a member of the institute since 1958 and was an editor of the institute's journal RUMAH, from its inaugural issue in 1960 until 1966.

He also co-organised the Non-West Modernist Past Conference with the institute in 2011, and was a proud winner of the SIA Gold Medal in 2017.

Tommy Koh also pays tribute to Lim

Ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh also paid a heartfelt tribute to Lim in a Facebook post, describing the several projects he pursued with the late architect.

This included starting a literary magazine called Monsoon, and forming a group to study issues related to land use planning, housing and urban design, called Singapore Planning and Urban Research (SPUR).

Koh added that the group did research and wrote papers which they would then submit to the government.

"The civil servants did not like us and regarded us as troublemakers," Koh said.

They were therefore "very surprised" when the former Prime Minister and late Lee Kuan Yew invited the group to a dinner at the Istana with the civil servants to hear their views.

Koh further noted, "At the end of the dinner, PM Lee thanked us for attending the dinner. He said he would have to separate the wheat from the chaff among us."


Top collage left photo via Singapore Institute of Architects/Facebook, central photo via photo from ET&Co, right photo via People's Park Complex website